Speak Out Now About Private Student Loan Debt

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finally has a Director, Richard Cordray.

He's getting right to work and has an open comment period where we, members of the public, can submit our personal stories and experiences regarding private student loans. If you have private student loans, please take a look at the bureau website and Request for Information.

I've written a little bit about student loans on this blog and have personal experience with private student loans. The comment period is open until next Tuesday, January 17, 2012. I plan to submit something and hopefully this post will help spread the word, so that everyone who is impacted and wants to speak up can have their voice heard.

At least in law school, it's pretty routine to take out private student loans, especially Bar Study Loans. For those of us who don't have other means of support, during the time that you're studying for the Bar Exam, you need money to survive.

Private student loans are pretty much the only option. Preparing for the Bar Exam is a full-time job and you spend all your time taking classes and studying. Many who try to work at the same time don't pass. These Bar Review Courses are very expensive. On top of paying for classes to prepare for the exam, you have to pay a lot of money to take it for each state that you want to be licensed in.

I'm sure there are similar issues with medical school and other graduate schools where you are no longer eligible for federal loans, subsidized or otherwise, but you still need money to continue what you started. What is the point of having graduated from school, but you cannot pay to take the next step to become licensed so you can work?

Many of us without money felt that we had no option but to get even further in debt by taking out private student loans. I know there are a lot of us. Many of us are silent about our loan debt. Privately we speak with one another about it, but there can be real shame about discussing it in public. Didn't we read the fine print? Shouldn't we have known better? What happened?

Well, you do what you have to do to make it through school and you think that you'll be able to pay it off in the end. Sure, some try and game the system, but most want to pay off the debt. 

Yesterday I listened to On Point with Tom Ashbrook discussing the American Dream and how it is getting harder to attain. Moving up in America is difficult. Someone who comes from a family with money and goes to school and graduates with no or very little debt and family connections to the powers that be has a very different experience from someone who graduates with over six figures worth of debt and no connections. Not that it's impossible. Some people really do rise up and make it just fine on their own. I'm just throwing it out there.

Anyway, hopefully there's a bright light at the end of all this. I just hope it's not the bright light you see when it's really the end.

*Updated 1/12/12* Here's an interesting interview and article about the issue of student loans. According to FICO's quarterly survey of bank risk professionals, "risk managers are seriously concerned about the debt loads held by students in the country." 

One thing that I want to add to this issue is that most of the articles that I'm reading are focused on young people and recent graduates. Student debt is a burden on people who are much older than those in their twenties. Student loans are NOT just an issue for young people. It' s an issue for people in their 30's and beyond and is a factor in weighing down the economy. People can barely pay their mortgages, rent, and health insurance.

So, if they can pay their student loans at all, their disposable income is seriously diminished. After paying for transportation and food, not much money is left to play around with. Read the FICO Survey here.

*Updated 1/13/12* And because I just cannot leave the student loan issue alone, here's an ABC News Report that I saw tonight. It's about young college women dating older men in order to get money to pay off their student loans.

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